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Home Office Funds First Uk Research Into Hindu Identity

by Ramesh Kallidai, Hindu Forum Britain

Posted March 10, 2006

1 March 2006 - The Hindu Forum of Britain in partnership with the Runnymede Trust are conducting the first ever government-funded UK research project aimed at understanding the issues and aspirations of today's Hindu youth, women, elders and community organisations in areas including access to public services, education, health, employment, funding, regeneration, integration, cohesion and equal opportunities.

Sponsored by the Home Office, the Connecting British Hindus Research Programme will also conduct ground-breaking research by enquiring into the question of the British Hindu identity. The consultation will seek the views of Hindus from the South East, the Midlands and the North through eight focus group meetings, online questionnaires and phone surveys. The findings of the research will be released by the Home Office in Summer 2006 and distributed to public service agencies, Government Departments, Local Councils and other stakeholder groups to help them in planning community provision.

The Hindu Forum of Britain has also urged Hindus from different areas, ages and backgrounds in the UK to respond to the email and web-based survey - Click Here - to understand the views of those Hindus who have not been able to participate in the focus group discussions and phone surveys.

Hindu led voluntary and community organisations have struggled to deliver tailored services to the community and moreover, a legacy of inequality and stereotyping has left the Hindu community isolated and, with a limited capacity to engage with other communities or to address their own problems. As a result of this and the constant demand from Hindu organisations and community leaders from across the UK, the Home Office commissioned this project.

Areas of concern in the Hindu community surround:

- Issues of generational gaps which discourage young Hindus from playing an active role in voluntary organisations. There are also issues surrounding their identity, 'Britishness' and links to their countries of origin or those of their forebears.

- Issues surrounding women's health, careers, education, equal opportunities, domestic violence, divorce and single parent families need to be understood. Often community infrastructures do not exist to deal with many of these pressing concerns.

- Carers from the Hindu community face a number of myths and stereotypes about their roles within the family and patients and carers are not accommodated in the formal system of care because it is often felt that for Hindus. these services are either inaccessible or inappropriate to their culture specific needs.

- Voluntary organisations within the Hindu community are often the only source of support and provide extremely useful services to the community but they suffer from a lack of resources. As a result, Hindu groups often remain unable to participate in or influence decisions directly affecting them.

Paul Goggins, Home Office Minister for Communities, said, "The Home Office is delighted to support the Connecting British Hindus Research Programme. It is important to empower communities to undertake such research projects because they are most likely to understand issues within their communities. We look forward to the findings to be released by the Hindu Forum of Britain and Runnymede Trust later this year. Projects like these add to the Home Office goal of building safe, just and cohesive communities where people from all faiths can live together as active citizens."

Ramesh Kallidai, Secretary General of the Hindu Forum of Britain said: "Although community organisations have an understanding of the range of issues and problems faced by Hindu, there has been no credible in-depth research conducted with a view to identifying priority areas for Government engagement. Unless, the Government has credible data and information collected and analysed about the community, giving due importance to regional variations and cultural diversity within the community itself, it will be difficult to allocate resources in the future in a manner that will be effective, productive and beneficial to the grassroots community."

Dr Robert Berkeley, Deputy Director of the Runnymede Trust added: "There is very little evidence about the experiences and needs of Hindu community groups and organisations and so alongside the e-survey the project is engaging with members of Hindu communities across the country through Focus groups in London, Leicester, Birmingham and Preston, telephone interviews as well as reviewed of existing research."

The final report is expected to be completed by the Summer 2006.

Ends

For more information contact Sanjay Mistry on 07810 368 772 or Ramesh Kallidai on 07915 383 103 or 07867 837 241

Editor's Notes:

1. The Hindu Forum of Britain is the representative umbrella body for British Hindus with formal membership of over 270 Hindu organisations from different regions and cultural backgrounds in Britain. The Hindu Forum of Britain has conducted some of the largest community consultation activities on behalf of the Hindu community to influence Government policy and runs a number of projects for Hindu youth, women, community safety and temples.

2. Although the Hindu Forum is a national organisation, it has a large regional presence through its membership from the largest regional umbrella organisations, religious organisations, community organisations and youth organisations.

3. At the core of the Forum's activities is a strong belief in the richness and diversity of the Hindu culture, its value system that encompasses respect for all beings and faiths, and a cultural heritage that facilitates community cohesion and coexistence. For more information visit the HFB Website: www.hinduforum.org. rising_road@yahoo.com